The oath in labour arbitrations: Critiquing an arbitrator’s prerogative to swear in witnesses

Author: Dennis Matlou

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Advocate, Limpopo Bar
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 138 Issue 4, p. 844-880


Can the oath, affirmation, or admonishment really be selectively administered on some witnesses but not on others? Sworn testimony is one of the most important features of the law of evidence. It is central not only to the continental system of law but also the common-law system on which our South African law of evidence is based. Witnesses testifying in formal court proceedings are required by statute law to swear an oath or make an affirmation or be admonished as to the truth of their testimony. But why is the same requirement not obligatory in statutory labour tribunals, where presiding officers have the prerogative to decide if they require witnesses to be sworn in prior to testifying? In this article, I criticise this prerogative for being ill-conceived, and advocate for its amendment.